LA City Police Officers File FLSA Regular Rate Lawsuit Over Out-of-Rank Pay

The City of Los Angeles is facing an FLSA lawsuit from four city police officers. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California contains allegations that the city is violating the FLSA by failing to include all “remuneration” in the officers’ regular rate of pay. More specifically, the officers claim the city does not include a 2.75 percent pay differential—provided to officers that temporarily serve in higher ranks—in the officer’s regular rate.

The FLSA requires virtually all of the money that an employer pays an employee [a.k.a. remuneration] included in that employee’s regular rate of pay. When an employer fails to include “all remuneration” in an employee’s regular rate that results in a lower overtime rate than required by the FLSA. Some common examples of “remuneration” that as a general rule must be included in an employee’s regular rate are longevity, educational incentives, and as we see in this complaint, out-of-rank pay. Here is more from the officer’s complaint:

  • Plaintiffs worked in different divisional assignments throughout the City of Los Angeles, but each Plaintiff was part of a “Temporary Higher Pay” program that resulted in them working in an assignment generally populated by a police officer of a higher rank.
  • As compensation for working in these higher rank posts, Plaintiffs are eligible to receive a 2.75% increase in their hourly rate of pay. The procedure to recover this pay increase requires the participating officer to submit paper work to their supervisor confirming they worked a minimum number of hours for a given time period. That paperwork is then sent to the CITY, and the officer is retroactively compensated for their hours worked with the pay increase gap.
  • Defendant CITY failed to apply this retroactive pay increase to any overtime hours worked by Plaintiffs. In other words, the retroactive pay was only paid at straight time rates, and not applied to overtime hours worked.
  • Defendant knew or should have known that it failed to compensate Plaintiffs with all of their overtime due. This program has been operating for years in divisions throughout City of Los Angeles and Defendant has made no effort whatsoever to correct their conduct. The systemic and pervasive nature of this failure to properly calculate each Plaintiff’s rate of overtime compensation, clearly indicates that the delay is Defendant’s policy and practice.
  • Defendant sat idly by, and knowingly failed to provide lawful compensation. Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and thereon allege, that at all times set forth herein, Defendant was advised by skilled lawyers and other professionals, employees and advisors knowledgeable about the FLSA. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Defendant willfully, knowingly and intentionally failed to comply with the FLSA.

The officers are seeking back wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees. Coincidently, we are just over a month away from our next FLSA for Fire Departments seminar. This will be the first live in-person FLSA seminar in over three years. For more information, click here.

Here is a copy of the officers’ complaint:

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